“Whore!” was a frequent and common insult slung at her. Whore. He was fucking her whenever he pleased, had brought her to his house for that purpose, as well as to cook and clean. She had been working at the rice mill and looking after his mother who was sick and lived in the same village. Over time, when he came to visit his mother, they caught each other’s attention and started to communicate. She had come to the house about three years ago, accompanying his mom on a visit. Mother eventually went back to the village but she stayed. It was good in the beginning (although never great; he not-so-jokingly referred to her as the maid), but soon deteriorated. Still, she kept on waking up at 5am to cook for him, to wash his clothes, to clean his house, and to work in his yard. And of course, sex whenever he wanted. Whore. Uh huh.
He pretended to be a Brahmin but in reality was nothing more than a common drunk of average intelligence and oversized ego. He was a little man, with a rice belly, and a hand that had been hurt in a car accident some years back. It hung at a strange angle and he couldn’t use it as well as the other one. He was well known, something of an expert in his field, and big man in the community. Regular mandir-goer, and dedicated Party member, but underneath the civilized veneer- just a brute and bully. He abused her regularly- ordered her around, swore and shouted at her, ridiculed her, etc. I don’t know why she stayed with him, took all that shit, did all that work for him, but then again, there are many things I don’t understand about Guyanese people, native though I am.
A lot of women believe they can change a man and stay to try again and again. Women are also brainwashed to think that they are nothing without a man, that having one is better than being alone, that they deserve what they get, even if it was shit, and all they can do is make the best of things- tek the licks, so to speak. I told her to leave all the time, as well as to fucking poison his food, but she didn’t listen to me. I got sick of hearing her moan and groan, and feel sorry for herself. “GO!” “JUST FUCKING GO!” I raged at her. They had no children together, and she had family she could turn to for help, etc. But still she stayed. I grew tired of listening to her. Yesterday- Christmas Day- there had been shouting, screaming, threatening- the usual. I’d heard everything from my apartment downstairs. When she came crying to me as usual, I’d given her the cold shoulder though, disgusted with her passivity. The morning afterwards she’d given me a bright “Happy Boxing Day” greeting and laughed when I commented dryly on her changed demeanor.
But then around 7:30pm, the rumbling started again. It was louder than usual, and immediately I knew I’d have to intervene. I pulled on some clothes hurriedly, grabbed the torch/taser, my phone, and raced outside. Went up the back verandah first since that was closest, but that door was locked tight. So I ran back down and around to the side door. Banged on that for a while but nobody came. The rumbling continued inside. When the door finally opened and I rushed in, his black buktuh was pulled down to one side and she was slumped on the floor, crying. He swung a hand and then a foot at her. I burst in shouting and screaming at him to “STOP THAT!” and “LEAVE HER ALONE!” Told her to get her stuff, that she needed to go. It took her a while to pack. I waited by the door, outside. Went in to shout at A for not doing anything. He had been there the whole time, standing in the verandah, gazing at the empty street and steadfastly ignoring the fight going on behind him. “Nah me! Me not going to interfere in dem people bizness,” he maintained, even after I cussed him out.
Suddenly, I remembered the gun. The man had a gun. Somehow, I’d forgotten about that. Well, not really. As I’d banged on the door, I’d remembered. I had the taser with me, but that against a gun wasn’t exactly good odds. I heard her screaming and busing him still, and swore to myself. This wasn’t the time for that; this was the time to get out fast. I strode back into the rear apartment, beyond the door marked ‘PRIVATE” and shouted at her to hurry the fuck up. Finally, she came out, with 3 bags and tears streaming down her face. She’d been asking him for money; he’d given her none. I gave her what I could and waited with her while she called her aunt, and then the taxi. He came down in the meanwhile, telling her sorry and not to go. I hollered at him, told him he was a disgraceful big man, no Brahmin, a real low class coolie skunthole, with no respect for women, uncouth and disgusting, a slave master. He was pitiful now. The car came and she left. I stalked back into my apartment (well, technically his apartment), slammed and padlocked the door. Boy, it sure felt good to tell him off! I had been listening to his shit for too long now, but it was usually just ignorant talk and I’d never had to intervene before. But verbal abuse and emotional abuse are still abuse and enough was fucking enough. I’ve had enough.
Fifteen minutes later, as I sipped my tequila and did my deep breathing exercises, I heard a man’s voice calling outside, repeating what seemed like a command of some sort. I’d seen a horse out there earlier; the sound I was hearing was the sort one might make to a horse, yes. This noise went on for a while. Eventually, I put back on my clothes again and went back outside. A horse floundered in the trench by the gate.
I didn’t understand how he got in there in the first place, and why he wasn’t fighting to come out, but apparently he’d been in there for a little while, stuck in the mud and tired. The man I’d heard calling was pulling on a rope around his neck. A little boy, around 8 or 9years old, watched excitedly. People from the neighboring houses, which 15 minutes earlier had been dark and silent during the rumbling, suddenly appeared on verandahs and doorsteps. Nobody came over to help in this case either though; just stood and watched this one fine man pulling desperately on the rope. I wanted to know whose horse it was and how it had gotten into the trench. Was it sick, hurt, or injured? It didn’t appear so. Rope guy said the horse belonged to a man who lived around the corner, who had a horse cart. “Fat Man?” I asked. Yes, Fat Man. Soon he came waddling down the road. He swore at the other man and picked up a plank. “Don’t hit him,” I said. “He’s just tired. Give him some time to rest a bit, regain his strength.” He was a big horse. Sharouk Khan, I heard Fat Man saying, but I wasn’t sure if that was the name of the man or the horse.
Fine man pulled while Fat Man shouted directions and things. The horse flopped this way, then that. Its nose was pointed toward the bridge but that was too high for him; he would have to be turned to the other side. He made a gigantic effort, ending up facing forward, but still not out. His sides heaved. Fat Man and I cursed. The little boy repeated my curse. “Hey, stop that!” I told him. All of a sudden, a car came racing towards us. A truckload of police sped behind it in hot pursuit. They bounced over the speedbumps and then- at the corner, a shot rang out.
Oh shit. Some shit was going down; the police were shooting and we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is how, just like that, people does dead in Guyana. This is why I don’t hang around outside and lock my door as soon as the sun sets. But the horse foundered still. I was afraid if we left it, it might snort up trench water into its lungs and drown to death. If that happened and we avoided getting shot by the police, we’d then have a big, heavy, *dead* horse to pull from the trench and lord knows, it was hard enough moving a live one. So we continued pulling, ducking low, and keeping an eye/ear on the action at the corner nearby. The police vehicle suddenly came careening back down the road, our way. Somebody (not me) said “Ask them for help!” Fat Man called out to them as they passed by. They slowed, looked, listened, then sped back off. Fat Man sucked his teeth and I cursed again. Useless muthafuckers. The kid stayed quiet this time. A couple other people drove by, slowed, looked and listened, but none stopped to assist.
Finally, the horse reared and lunged and surged and made it out of the trench. Good night, the little boy grinned at me as they led him away. I came back inside and washed the mud off my skin. Thankfully there was still tequila. The end, for now. Tomorrow is another story.